PREMIER John Brumby should appear before the Bushfires Royal Commission to explain chronic failures in fire policy that left Victorians "dangerously unprepared" for Black Saturday, says the Opposition.
Coalition leader Ted Baillieu said the commission's damning interim report disclosed a catalogue of failures. He accused the Government of failing to act on countless reports into fire issues over the past decade.
"The fact that 113 people died in their homes sends a very stark message … those 113 quite simply did not receive the information they needed to save themselves," he told Parliament. "We can only now surmise at just how many died doing, in good faith, what they were advised to do."
Mr Baillieu said the recommendations of government agencies, made in reports and inquiries into fires and emergency management, had been ignored, delayed and shelved.
"The Government must accept responsibility for the failures," Mr Baillieu said, calling for the Premier and senior ministers to appear before the commission. "This must not be swept under the carpet."
In a heated question time, Mr Baillieu attacked the Government over the recommendations in five reports - on topics from triple-zero, emergency signals, a single bushfire warning website and the clearing of native vegetation - dating back to 2003.
All the findings in these reports are repeated in the 51 recommendations of the royal commission's interim report, which the Government has supported.
"Is it not a fact that in a chronic failure of this Government to act, this recommendation was ignored, leaving Victoria dangerously unprepared for disaster?" Mr Baillieu asked of each of the reports.
But Mr Brumby hit back, saying the royal commission had unfettered powers to examine all of the issues raised by the February 7 blazes. He said the Government had supported all the interim report's recommendations.
Mr Brumby said more than $700 million was spent on firefighting last year. "The Government has tripled the resources which are available for fire and emergency services," he said.
"The state is spending by far more on the fire services and preparation than we have ever spent in history."
Among the interim report's recommendations are the use of emergency signals warning of life-threatening fires, empowering fire authorities to advise people to leave areas of dangerous fires and developing "neighbourhood safer places" in 52 high-risk towns.
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